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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IDEALS   OF   LIFE

in life's battle, in spite of the fact that the theory itself was the
result of the highest human intelligence.

Human intelligence in Laotse had seen its own dangers and
began to preach "Be stupid!" as its greatest message. It had
seen the futility of human effort, and therefore advised the
doctrine of "doing nothing" as a saving of energy and a method
of prolonging life. From this point on the positive outlook on
life became negative, and its influence has coloured the whole
Oriental culture. As may be seen in the novel Teksao Paqyen
and in all lives of great Chinese, the conversion of a bandit or
a recluse into a man of the world with responsibilities toward
one's fellow-beings, was always represented by a Confucian
argument, while the romantic escape from the world was
always represented by the Taoistic or Buddhistic point of view.
In Chinese, these two opposite attitudes are called "entering
the world3* and "leaving the world." Sometimes these two
points of view struggle for supremacy in the same man and at
different periods in his life, as may be seen in the life of Yuan
Chunglang. A living example is that of Professor Liang Suming,
who was a Buddhist living in the mountains, but who was
reconverted to Confucianism, married and is now conducting
a rural middle school in Shantung.

The rural ideal of life, art and literature, which is such an
important feature of the Chinese civilization, owes a large
measure to this Taoistic feeling for nature. In Chinese paint-
ings on scrolls and porcelain there are two favourite themes,
one being the happiness of family life with pictures of women
and children in their leisure, the other being the happiness
of the rural life, with pictures of a fisherman, or a woodcutter,
or a recluse sitting on the ground under a group of pine-trees.
These two themes may represent respectively the Confucianist
and the Taoistic ideal of life. The woodcutter, the herb-
gatherer, and the recluse are more closely associated with
Taoism than the average foreigner would suspect. The
Taoistic feeling is well expressed by this favourite poem:

I asked the boy beneath the pines.

He said, "The Master's gone alone

Herb-picking somewhere on the mount.

Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown."